Santorini Dreamin’ on Such a Winter’s Day

The view outside of Doretta, on a cold winter's night

An arctic winter night was made tolerable by going to Doretta taverna and raw bar, an oasis of casual cool in Boston’s theater district.

Getting me to leave a cozy house on a frigid winter night is like trying to move a mountain. So when my husband roused me from my sleepy, snow day stupor to venture out, it was a Herculean feat. He was able to do this because we were going to Doretta taverna and raw bar. The restaurant opened late last year and is located at The Heritage on the Garden in Boston.

The moment we arrived, the Boho chic of a modern art studio enveloped us and we were greeted with the warmth of a Santorini summer breeze. We were early for our reservation, so we waited on a stylishly upholstered, comfortable banquette in front of tall windows and ordered a drink. (The bar was inviting, with generous leather stools and a TV, but we wanted to sit close together, look outside at the twinkling trees and laugh at the blustery weather.) The spacious interior with its high ceilings makes a superb venue for showcasing the interior artwork by Adrienne Schlow, wife of Doretta’s Chef Michael Schlow. In addition to her gorgeous mixed media paintings, the large space features a 60’ hand painted wall she created, setting off a distressed leather banquette along the back of the room.

Art

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Our cocktails were divine. The Daiquiri, just the right shade of lime, was served in the perfect, dainty tumbler, just like on “Mad Men.”

As we sipped away the stresses of the week, we gazed out at the sparkling trees. It was magical, being sheltered inside this elegant, urban snow globe of casual cool.

It was the anniversary of our first meeting. My husband made sure we got a table in front of the windows, so we could continue our snow gazing. Soon after we sat down, flutes of complimentary champagne were brought to the table. Our waiter, Erick Posada, was warm and knowledgeable without being obtrusive. He expertly explained the difference between the appetizers and steered us in the right direction with the small shellfish and raw bar plateau. Artfully arranged bites of lobster, salmon, red snapper, shrimp and yellow tail as well as some oysters, arrived on a silver, ice cold platter. Every item was so fresh and succulent that Doretta will surely give the nearby Legal Seafoods a run for its money.

The wine menu is a Mediterranean sea of options, with its carefully curated selection of ‘by the glass’ and bottled wines. Aside from the usual suspects — France, Italy, California and Spain — several other countries are included on the list, like Hungary, Austria, Slovenia, Lebanon and Portugal. Greece is proudly represented with wines from nearly a dozen different regions. We ordered wine by the glass and Doretta gives its guests a generous pour. (This was refreshing, since many restaurants give you just enough wine so that you run out before the main course arrives.) We tried a couple of different varieties, with my favorite being the crisp, fruity Domaine Siglas Assyrtiko-Athriri, a white from Santorini. Erick, a native of Columbia with perfect English, paced our meal like a state dinner. We never felt rushed. Erick also paid a lot of attention to detail. For example, when he realized I had ordered a different white for my next glass, he brought me a goblet with a narrower shape to enhance its flavor. The other attendants were equally vigilant, from the water server to the gentleman who brought us homemade pita bread. Throughout the evening, we got up a couple of times to look at the artwork and check out the décor. Our napkins were neatly folded each time we returned to the table.

After consuming the raw bar plateau, the fried Calamari arrived. The ringlets were white and smooth, without that golden “fried onion ring” look I was used to, so the lemony crunch was totally unexpected. I was transported to a seaside café in Crete and finished the dish faster than you can say Opa! The warm shrimp seasoned with dill came next. This was a recommendation by Erick that was much appreciated.

We shared the Branzino for our main dish. Served with plump capers, roasted red peppers, lemons and fresh cilantro, the entrée was a visual cornucopia on a simple white plate. The fish was browned to perfection. I heard angels sing at the first bite. A side dish of roasted cauliflower, with jalapenos and pistachios, was the finishing touch to our entree. Each dish was light, fresh, colorful and nourishing. Our meal was pure protein. We felt light and so healthy when we finished!

Branzino

Breaking our wholesome spell, we succumbed to dessert. Erick steered my husband to the Galaktoboureko, a dreamy creamy dessert, made with custard and phyllo dough. I ordered the Baklava. It was not nearly as gooey and chewy as I like, but the traditional Greek pastry was a fine ending to a romantic, relaxing, and delicious night.

The restaurant will surely become my favorite year ‘round pre- theater destination. I can’t wait to return when the weather gets warmer. I’ll sit outside on the restaurant’s patio, under a ‘Mediterranean’ sky over the Park Plaza, imagining a breeze off the ‘Aegean’ while observing society like a boulevardier in Paris. This will all make me hungry for the glorious food I haven’t tried yet, like the Greek Salad (a work of art), crunchy eggplant, spinach pie and the 15-hour lamb shoulder or the striped bass. Of course it wouldn’t be a meal without fresh raw oysters, topped off with a crisp Macedonian white or a Spanish red. With a place like Dorcetta around, who needs to travel?

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LisaRod

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